At a Glance: Best reloading press for accuracy
Comparison of Best reloading press for accuracy
Our Top Pick
|RCBS – Pro Chucker 7 Progressive Press||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|CMMG AR-15 safety selector||View Latest Price|
Our Top Pick
|Hornady – Lock-N-Load Auto progressive press||View Latest Price|
One of the top reasons many shooters opt to reload their ammunition is to improve their shooting accuracy. Handloading allows you to fine-tune your cases to perform exactly how you want them to with your rifle, resulting in much higher consistency.
There are many different reloading presses on the market. If you’re looking to create more accurate loads, you’ll need to know what to look for to get your desired results. That’s why I’ve tested and reviewed the 8 best reloading presses for accuracy.
As well as rating each model on its accuracy and consistency, I’ve also reviewed other important factors such as quality, ease of use, and extra features. Moreover, I’ve included options from all price ranges, so whatever your budget, you can find the most accurate reloading press for your needs.
RCBS – Pro Chucker 7 Progressive Press
If you’re looking to take your reloading to the next level, this is the press for you. The Pro Chucker 7 by RCBS was the first seven-station auto-indexing press to be launched on the market. With this press, you can load quickly and with a very high degree of customization.
The Pro Chucker 7 features automatic indexing for maximum production speed. The load rate of this press is an impressive 600 rounds per hour give or take. Another smart feature is the quick-change die plate which will give you a fast caliber change over, for extra efficiency.
The powder capacity of this press is also pretty huge. This large capacity combined with the quick-change powder measure reduces the number of times you’ll need to fill the powder hopper. The quick-change drain tube drains the powder measure without removing it from the press and the QC metering assemblies reduce the setup time when switching powders.
This is a very durable press with top-notch engineering that will guarantee you consistent loads. Even so, it’s not one for those on a budget. It’s at the highest end of the price range but for the ardent shooter who reloads large quantities of ammunition, it could be the best reloading press for accuracy and speed.
- Seven stations
- Quick-change die plate
- Large capacity
- Quick change powder measures
- Extremely fast, with an average load rate of 600 rounds per hour
- Very expensive
- Not the easiest to use
- Not the best choice for beginners
Hornady – Lock-N-Load iron press kit
The Hornady Lock-N-Load iron press is built to be the heaviest, most rigid, and durable progressive press on the market. During both manufacturing and assembling, Hornady ensures tight tolerances to provide the utmost consistency and precision for every round.
The iron press boasts a five-station, auto-indexing feature as well as Hornady’s own EZject System. This high-tech system ensures each cartridge is ejected upon completion. The iron press is also one of the fastest progressive presses out there, producing up to 600 rounds per hour!
Despite being a heavy-duty machine, I found this press surprisingly easy to use. This is largely due to its features such as the case-activated powder drop which ensures no powder releases until there is a case attached to the holder. Another clever feature that streamlines the process further is its quick-change system, which changes out dies with a single twist.
This may not be the best choice for beginners due to its advanced functionality. However, this press will suit experienced single-stage press reloaders who are looking to speed up their reloading process as well as take their ammunitions’ accuracy to the next level.
In terms of price, it sits in the mid-range, giving a more accessible option than some of the other progressive presses on the list.
- Five-station auto-indexing
- Supreme quality and durable construction
- Clean powder drop
- Quick-change die system
- Fast operation producing up to 600 rounds per hour
- It might be a bit complicated for beginners
- More prone to jams and malfunctions
Hornady – Lock-N-Load Auto progressive press
Another top quality press from Hornady, the Lock-N-Load Auto is an automatic, five-station progressive press. With this press, you can easily switch your calibers without having to change the entire tool head. With just a quick twist, you can engage or disengage your dies in each station.
This setup allows you to load 500 rounds per hour on average. I found this press automatically advances the cases to the next station with the smoothest indexing of all the presses I tested.
I also like how it rotates every half stroke to lessen the chance of powder spillage. When each round is completed, the case is automatically ejected into the large capacity case catcher using the built-in EZject system to prevent jamming upon ejecting cartridges.
Another cool feature is the quick-change powder measure. This lets you change powder charges with the press of a button and utilizes metering inserts that allow you to preset your dies to the charge you desire. Other features include a built-in priming system and a case-activated powder drop.
I found this Hornady press to have the best balance between quality and affordability. It includes many of the top features of the most expensive progressive presses but without such a high price tag. If you’re new to progressive presses it may be a little tricky to set up, but once you get the hang of it you’ll find this powerful machine can hugely upgrade your load accuracy.
- Fully automated
- 5-station bushing system for quick changes
- Quick-change powder measure with insert
- High round output
- Lots of extra features, good value for money
- Can be a bit tricky to set up.
- More prone to jams and malfunctions
Redding – T-7 turret press
The T-7 turret press by Redding features an impressive seven station turret head that is easily turned to set the next die in place. It also has a powerful compound linkage with over 3.8 inches of ram travel.
It’s constructed with rock-solid cast iron and its rear casting supports a durable turret to give precise alignment. The T-7 is integrated with a one-inch diameter ram and works with threading dies of 7/8 inches to fourteen inches, including the longer Competition dies.
This is a very heavy press but it is extremely solid, in fact, I would say that this is the most robust press that I tested. I found being able to have 2 calibers set up at a time saved a lot of time in the reloading process.
The press is as smooth as silk and the turret is easy to turn with or without the extension arm. One little issue I found was that the plastic primer chute starts to clog up after a while when using large primers, so that’s something to be mindful of.
Overall, the T-7 turret press is versatile, accurate, and well made in every aspect. It’s perfect for both shooters interested in learning how to reload and seasoned reloaders.
- Seven station turret head
- Powerful compound linkage with over 3.8″ of ram travel
- Strongest construction, made from rock-solid cast iron
- Very smooth operation
- A great option for reloaders of all levels
- Primer chute may clog up with large primers
Redding – Ultramag reloading press
The UltraMag reloading press from Redding is a heavy-duty, high-quality press suited for large jobs and reloaders who need a large frame press. Uniquely, the Ultramag’s leverage system is connected to the top of the press frame giving tons of pressure without any need to worry about deflection or misalignment in the frame.
The Ultramag press was specially developed to give lots of leverage for resizing magnum rifle cartridges. This reloading press has a handy tube to catch the primers but to my disappointment, it only has 1 die station. This is nowhere near as impressive as Redding’s T-7 turret model that boasts 7 stations.
It is quite an expensive press, so it’s not the best option for those on a tight budget. On the other hand, if you reload long magnum cartridges, it will serve as a great addition to your workbench. One word of warning though, you do have to be careful with the power this press will exert.
I liked the open front design of this press and found it made reloading longer ammunition much easier. Overall, the Ultramag has wonderfully smooth operation, is tough as nails, and gives monster leverage.
- Tough, heavy-duty construction
- Very powerful – gives a lot of leverage
- Works great with long magnum cartridges
- Easy to use thanks to its open front design
- An expensive option
MEC Reloading – MEC Sizemaster shell press
The MEC Sizemaster is a complete single-stage reloading press that offers simplicity and efficiency while maintaining absolute precision. This shell press is packed with top-class features such as the E-Z Prime automatic primer feed and the “Power Ring” collet resizer that returns every case to SAAMI specifications.
Other features include a cam-action crimp die and a spindex crimp starter which swivels to align itself correctly with original shell creases. This new generation all-in-one resizing station handles both brass and steel heads, as well as both high and low bases. The Sizemaster is adjustable for 3 shells and is available in 12, 20, 28 gauge, and .410 bore.
I was truly impressed with the construction of the press. It is solidly built and will last a lifetime. I also found the Sizemaster to be incredibly easy and a joy to use. As it’s a single-stage press, it is slower than the progressive presses on this list. However, it still turns out accurate and consistent shells and is a more affordable option.
If you like to take your time reloading and you want a top-quality, reliable press to assist you, this one could well be the best reloading press for you.
- Simple, easy to use design
- E-Z Prime automatic primer feed
- Power Ring collet resizer
- Handles both brass and steel heads
- Strong and durable construction
- Good value for money
- Not the fastest operation
Sinclair International – Sinclair 7/8-14 Benchrest press
The Sinclair Benchrest press is designed especially for bump-sizing cartridge shoulders. The press was created with the input of real benchrest shooters who use small, portable presses. Consequently, the features this press has are the result of this. You can easily take it to the range and develop a round in real time.
Talking about features, this press has a ton. The 10-degree press tilt, the covered linkage, and the primer exit point are the highlights which make this press stand out from the others.
The unique 10-degree press tilt makes inserting cases as easy as can be. The spent primers exit through the bottom of the ram to keep any primer debris away from the linkages. Moreover, the heavy-duty covered linkage remains free from any exposed clips, nuts, or bolts.
I found this compact press to be one of the most well-constructed and designed presses on the market. Sinclair has machined and contoured the benchrest press using a durable but lightweight aluminum billet. They also applied a soft radius to all edges to eliminate sharp corners. The press has been designed with a 2.5-inch throat opening to accept up to .308 case lengths for sizing.
As well as rating high in construction and design, I also found it extremely easy to use thanks to its press tilt and optional mounting plate which has a lightning-quick takedown procedure. The construction, design, and features of the benchrest press make it easy to produce the most accurate rounds with supreme consistency every time.
- 10-degree press tilt for easy case inputting
- Cleverly designed primer exit point
- Heavy-duty covered linkage
- Lightweight and compact design for loading at the range
- Easy to use
- An affordable choice
- Compact size limits the range of cartridges you can load
- Much slower and more limited than other presses
RCBS – Summit reloading press
The Summit reloading press from RCBS boasts an all-steel linkage and cast iron frame to give you the stability and ruggedness you need for accurate reloading. The innovative design mounts the whole of the press to the top of your bench and lowers the die down to the case.
This ambidextrous press allows unprecedented access to your cases, allowing you to quickly change dies. What’s more, the Summit press offers compound leverage, a massive 2-inch diameter ram, full-frontal access, a press adapter bushing, spent primer catcher, and a 4-1/2 inch operating window for convenient access.
This is undoubtedly the most powerful press that I tested. Built from the highest quality materials, this is the press for reloaders who need to quickly crank out precision rounds. I found the action to be smooth and precise but also way more powerful than I needed for the .223 cases I was using.
If you’re reloading large cases in great quantities, the solid construction and design of this press will assist you in achieving the perfect precision and accuracy that you’re after. For this reason, the Summit could quite possibly be the best reloading press for accuracy, durability, and price.
- Extremely powerful
- Tough as nails construction
- Ambidextrous design
- Top choice for reloading large cases
- Lots of awesome features
- Can be too powerful for reloaders who use smaller calibers
Is reloading something you want to get into?
There are many benefits to reloading your ammunition. Not only does it save you money, but it can greatly improve your accuracy and can be a fun hobby too. Moreover, reloading gives you the power to customize your cases to perform exactly how you want them to with your gun.
If you’re unsure if reloading is for you, here are the ways that reloading can improve your shooting.
- Handloading your ammunition rather than buying factory-produced will allow you to achieve much higher accuracy and consistency with your loads. This is especially true if you’re a long-range precision shooter.
- Factory-made ammunition can often have minor differences in powder charges, concentricity of bullets with the neck of the cartridge, and other small defects. This is unavoidable in factory manufacturing as it focuses on producing ammunition in bulk.
- The process of reloading your ammunition by hand gives you the chance to inspect each round for quality as you are loading it.
- Many reloaders take up reloading as a way to save money. Although the savings may not seem extremely high per round, it does pay off over time and the more you shoot, the more money you will save.
- You’ll save the most money if you use “oddball” calibers or large rifle ammunition. For example, handloading .300 BLK will cost around 50 cents a round, while purchasing comparable ammunition from a manufacturer will cost between 1 and 2 dollars per round.
- Aside from the accuracy improvement and cost savings, many shooters choose to reload purely as a hobby. Some people even enjoy reloading their ammunition more than shooting it.
- Reloading is an “easy to learn, difficult to master” hobby that many people find intriguing. You can easily get started with the necessary equipment for a very affordable price, but becoming an expert in the field takes years of experience, practice, and lots of expensive equipment!
What to consider when choosing the best reloading press
Your reloading press should suit your shooting style and needs. Here are the top things to think about when making your choice.
The better the press is constructed, the longer it will last, and, therefore, the better return on investment you will get from it. Here are my recommendations on choosing a well-constructed reloading press:
- Buy from a reputable manufacturer that builds their presses in the USA, like all the models on this list.
- Opt for a press that has been made with steel or cast iron as these are higher quality and more durable materials than aluminum.
Many manufacturers offer aftermarket components for their presses. Often, a wide range of the manufacturers products are compatible with many or all of their presses. In other cases, add-ons will only be compatible with certain presses. Sometimes you’ll even find other manufacturers with components compatible with another brand’s presses. Get to know what’s out there and what you think you’ll want. It usually isn’t hard to find a great press with the aftermarket upgrades that you need. One of the most common examples is a powder measure that fits in a die socket and serves as one ‘stage’ on a progressive press.
Ease of use
A press that runs smoothly is going to greatly improve your reloading experience. Many functions make the press easier to use. Here are a few features to look out for:
- An integrated primer catcher
- A wide base that’s easy to mount
- A ratchet-style height adjustment knob
- A pre-lubricated press
Many different accessories may be included with your new press such as additional turret heads and a quick-change bushing. Some single stage presses will also have priming attachments that let you prime at the same time rather than having to use a separate hand priming setup.
Moreover, many manufacturers will additionally sell their press as part of a full kit which will include everything you need for the reloading process.
Die changing system
Some reloading presses feature a quick-change die system. This is a useful addition that helps to speed up the die changing process. With a quick-change system, you don’t need to waste time re-adjusting as you can change the die immediately just by twisting.
Single-stage vs turret vs progressive press
Let’s compare the 3 types of reloading press available.
- A single-stage press is one of the slowest methods of reloading.
- It can only perform one operation at a time.
- The die must be changed every time you need to switch operations.
- A single-stage press is the cheapest press style.
- Single-stage presses value precision over quantity resulting in extreme accuracy. This makes them a very good option for beginners or low volume shooters.
- They require much more time, involvement, and focus, compared to other styles, however, this can help you learn the fundamentals of the reloading process.
A single-stage press is the best option for you if:
- You primarily load rifles and small quantities of ammunition
- You’re just starting and are on a budget
- You want to spend the extra time on the process to ensure the best accuracy
- A turret press is similar to a single-stage press as it only performs one operation per pull of the lever.
- The difference is in how it holds the dies. A turret press has a rotating cylinder at the top that holds all the dies needed to load your rounds. This means you don’t have to remove the case from the press after every step.
- To use a turret press, you simply pull the lever to operate, then index the turret to bring around the die for the next step.
- This allows you to create a fully-loaded round with just a few pulls of the lever. Some models even have an auto-indexing feature so that all you have to do is pull the lever!
- They are considerably faster than a single stage press, but also more expensive. They are also a bit slower than a progressive, but much cheaper. Therefore they make a good compromise between the two.
A turret press is the best option for you if:
- You favor accuracy and attention to detail over speed.
- You’re willing to spend a bit more money to get a press with decent speed.
- You’re new to reloading so you want something simpler than a progressive press.
- A progressive press is the most efficient, but also the most expensive type of reloading press.
- With experience, it’s possible to load up to 1,000 rounds in an hour. This type of press achieves these speeds by performing multiple operations at once.
- As well as performing the process in a quicker time, progressive presses also work well with larger calibers. This style could be an option if you tend to reload large magnum rounds, especially in high quantities.
- A progressive press holds all the dies at the top of the press but also has multiple shell holders.
- To use this press you just put in all the components, set it to your preference, and start pulling the lever. Pretty soon you’ll get one completed round per pull.
- Many progressive presses also come with automatic feeders which will insert your cases, primers, powder, and bullets into the process as needed.
A couple of points to note if you’re thinking of upgrading from a single-stage press to a progressive model:
- As a progressive press has multiple shell holders, you will need to set up your dies in a specific way and continually check that they are properly tuned. Perfect consistency can be harder to guarantee.
- One of the stages can be filled by a powder charge instead of completing this step off the press like wtih a single stage press.
- A progressive press can be much more complicated to use than a single-stage or turret press. For this reason, it’s more likely that something will go wrong such as jam or breakage.
A progressive press is the best option for you if:
- You shoot large quantities of ammunition
- You’re happy to pay a lot more to save time
- You’re mechanically inclined and you want the best, most advanced machine.
What is auto-indexing on a reloading press?
Indexing means moving the dies to the next position. With a manual indexing press, you have to advance the dies or case holders by hand.
An auto-indexing press automatically “indexes” the dies or case holders to the next step for you by rotating them around.
- The auto-indexing feature can be found on many progressive presses.
- Automatic indexing requires about 25% of the stroke length to rotate the shell plate.
- It’s easier to load longer cartridges on a manually-indexed press than on an auto-indexing machine.
- If you are new to reloading it may be best to start with manual indexing as it is easier to learn.
With automation comes potential complications. Some shooters will say that auto-indexing unnecessarily complicates the machine or that manual indexing gives you more control. If it’s your first time using a press with the auto-indexing function, take your time. By slowing down and concentrating on how the automation works you will still produce plenty of ammo but you will get more accurate end results, too.
How automated presses work and do you need one?
Different presses will offer different automation features.
- The most basic features that an automated press offers are case feeders and bullet feeders. These feeders automatically place new brass casings and new bullets into the press so all you need to do is pull the handle and keep the various components topped up.
- The press’s lever can have an “auto-drive” feature that has the addition of a motor to move in without you physically needing to.
- An automatic press can have automated functions for different steps of the process. This allows you to de-prime, primer pocket swage, bulge bust, or size cast bullets as fast as you can operate the lever.
Automated reloading presses cost a lot more than manual presses. Because of the significant price difference, unless you shoot a lot and/or shoot large calibers, you may not see a return on your investment.
However, because automated presses are much quicker than manual ones, you will spend much less time reloading. Therefore, you only really need an automated press if you’re shooting large quantities, or if you want to make the reloading process as short as possible, and don’t mind paying to do so.
How to change calibers on your press
Turret and progressive presses allow you to install all the dies you need at once and process complete rounds of ammunition one after another. After you install and adjust the dies, you will only need to regularly check that they are still set correctly.
When you want to load a different caliber, you can change several dies at once, usually with “quick-change” mechanisms. For example, you can have extra turrets that hold all the dies necessary for reloading any given caliber. Simply switch out the turrets.
How to use a reloading press
Here are some general guidelines for using a manual single-stage reloading press.
- First, clean the cases. Make sure every case you’re going to use is clean and has no deformities or defects.
- Then lubricate each case. This is needed because of the force that the cartridges will go through.
- Install the shell holder in the press to keep the cartridge in position. Keep in mind that different bullets require different sizes of shell holders.
- Next, install the sizing die and ensure it’s in the right position. Make sure the sizer touches the shell holder when you pull the lever.
- With the sizing die in position, secure the lock ring.
- Fix the case into the shell holder by lowering the lever. This will resize the case to the proper dimensions.
- If the case is too long, trim it for proper chambering. After using a case several times it can become longer than it should be.
- Prime the case. Place all the primers in a tray making sure the anvil is at the top. Then position one in the primer ram, raise it and insert the case into the shell holder so the primer is at the bottom of the case. Slowly raise the shell holder to set the primer in the case.
- Fill the case with the correct powder load. Use a reloading scale to ensure accuracy.
- Fix the bullet into the case. Hold it on top of the case while you raise the shell holder to ensure the die pushes the bullet into the case. Then lower the shell case and check the bullet is at the right depth.
Summary – Which reloading press is the best?
Some shooters will prefer a manual single-stage press with a simplistic design while others will want to splash out on a fully automated progressive machine. The good news is that both styles have the potential to immensely improve the accuracy and consistency of your loads.
The most important thing when choosing a press is to choose the one you feel most comfortable with. All the machines on this list are from reputable brands, so you can’t go wrong with any of them.
After testing all 8 reloading presses I was very impressed with the quality, durability, and consistency of them all. However, the one I feel is the best reloading press for accuracy is the Hornady Lock-N-Load auto progressive press
The Lock-N-Load auto has all the features of a top-quality automotic progressive press but without such a hefty price tag. The quick-change functioning and high round output make it the best choice for serious reloaders looking to take their handloading skills to the next level.
I hope this guide has given you a clearer understanding of how a reloading press can help you get more accurate rounds, and what to look for when choosing your next press.